As you might remember, I recently took a course on how to improve the first ten pages of a manuscript.
The course is wrapped, and I’m here to present my official review without further ado–
Writer’s Digest University “Your First Ten Pages Boot-Camp”Cost: $199.00 Format: Online Duration: Three Days Components: Two Videos, Forum access, Professional Q&A, and Before/After Professional Critiques Opinion: Overpriced
- Information was useful, concise, and helped me to revise a great deal of my MS’s opening.
- I also feel it will help me when writing openings in the future, as well as in my work on the blog.
- The video was a download, so I get to keep it to boot.
- Agents at the class were knowledgeable, professional, and cordial. I’ve been treated like dirt by agents before, but these guys were class acts.
- Forum was a useful tool for manuscript refinement as well as insight into the art/industry.
- Agents responded very promptly to questions in the forum.
- Lots of opportunities to network with other authors.
- The class comes with a one year membership to Writer’sMarket.com.
The Not-as good:
- The instructions were printed in a number of places and not 100% consistent; while they never contradicted each-other, some pages listed details (such as deadlines) which others did not.
- The class’s interface is run through BlackBoard. While I didn’t find it difficult to navigate, It could have been more streamlined; there was a lot of clicking and redundant, single link pages.
- While my initial feedback was helpful, I found my followup feedback to be far less so. It was a single paragraph acknowledging I made the changes suggested, and further suggesting I be observant of the dialogue/narration ratio. It seems like very general feedback after waiting a week to receive it.
- I feel I could have had a beta reader give me more than the amount of feedback Ms. Negron did, but for a lower cost. Many Beta readers will at least highlight specific passages or sections which need work or praise.
- While I’m sure it’s possible, I feel there is only a small likelihood of being discovered by an agent through one of these classes, and calling attention to it might create an unrealistic expectation in some customers.
I learned some new things, my first ten pages improved, and I have some perks to show for it. I still feel I payed a bit much for what I got.
Putting things in perspective, your average writer’s conference will cost you $500 (not including meals and lodging [but artful folks like me can get around some of those things]). It takes up about the same amount of time, but you get to attend between five and seven classes, which are just like the two videos offered here. A yearly membership to WritersMarket.com costs $39.99 (though I haven’t accessed mine and can’t tell you whether it’s worth it). And according to the Editorial Freelancer’s Assoc., the cost of editing the first 10 pages of my manuscript would be around $50, and I imagine I’d have received much more in-depth feedback.
This is how I can figure the course’s approximate relative value. The agent Q&A should be factored in as well, but since it isn’t something which is commonly sold, I let the editor’s more detailed feedback substitute.
But, at the end of the day, I guess the real question is one of…
Am I satisfied?
Not 100%. I’d say maybe 75% satisfied.
For a class which calls itsself “Your First Ten Pages Bootcamp” I was a little disappointed with the attention paid to refining my first ten pages. While this class definitely offers something of value, I feel my money would have been better spent on professional editing.
I hope some of you who’ve taken classes will tell me about them in the comments–let me know your impressions and if there are any worth taking!
Thanks for reading and congrats to my friend, Topper!
*UPDATE: upon discussing with some of my classmates, opinions are largely the same–good class, but could have been better.
Also, there are some people who are reporting they’ve still not received their final feedback (two days after due date) and some (myself included) who have not yet received their writer’s market membership.